As noted in my earlier blog, I was on an Appalachian Trail hike in Virginia this past week and ended up leaving early due to injury. This was a hike of approximately 18 people, and of the original 18, only 7 ended up being able to finish. The rest of us needed to find our own way out and possibly home which was something we all realized was a possibility as this was an "individual" hiking opportunity that just happened to be with a group of like-minded folks who attempted to be on the trail at the same time. Although we had an itinerary and hoped to be able to stay together as a group merely to enjoy one another's company, the reality was that everyone went at their own pace and continued at their own discretion.
Unfortunately, it appears as though one of the hikers in our group never made it out. Preliminary efforts to track him down have been unsuccessful and this blog was only posted after it became a serious reality that he may be missing.
The hiker is Ken Knight, a visually impaired hiker from Michigan. Ken is also the voice on numerous podcasts from Backpackinglight.com and the author of http://awanderingknight.blogspot.com/ and http://wanderingknight.libsyn.com/.
Ken is approximately 5'4" and is 41 years old. He has brown hair, brown eyes, and a brown beard. The picture in this blog is an accurate depiction as it was taken on this hike. Ken had a blaze orange backpack which also worked as a dry bag. He had a tent, sleeping bag, and what I would describe as "minimal food". He was dressed appropriately for the conditions and water sources were widely available.
Ken was last seen at the Punchbowl Shelter just off of Blue Ridge Parkway on Punchbowl Mountain in Buena Vista, Virginia on Saturday April 25th or Sunday April 26th. His last known transmission of any kind was from the shelter on Sunday April 26th when he posted a short video to his website from his iPhone at roughly 6:30am.
Ken is a highly experienced backpacker and his skills in the wilderness are not in question. However, due to his visual impairment, it was noted that he was having difficulty finding the trail and staying on it. This hike was also particularly difficult and he very well may have attempted to hitch a ride out. Unfortunately, he never connected with his ride to the airport. It is also believed that he did not take a train or airplane home. Neither his employer nor his parents have heard from him. The Park Service and local authorities are initiating a search.
If you know the whereabouts of Ken or if you'll be in this area, please keep an out eye for him and let me know immediately if anything comes up.
If you're of the persuasion, please pray for him - it matters.
Please follow the discussion thread at Backpackinglight.com initiated by BPL President Ryan Jordan. http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=20748